microphone and podium

Summer 2007, Volume 3

Poetry by Chrys Tobey


It’s like glancing in the rearview mirror only to see
a red suburban coming towards you, as you’re stopped on the freeway.
It’s those monsters that came along with your childhood fevers
or like scraping your gums with a toothpick.
Like running through a field, barefoot, dandelions everywhere,
feet stained yellow, as you step on a bee.
Your eyes are lightening bugs or your brain is a piece of orange bubble gum. 
It’s when you arrive somewhere
and it’s no different than the place you’ve left. 
Like waking up in a hospital after you’ve been revived, with no idea as to how much time has passed
or when you scream at the top of your lungs,
yet no window will break. 
It’s saying goodbye to your imaginary friend.
Realizing the boy-next-door never loved you
or the pull of a rip tide, while you try to swim to the side,
not to let your heart pound too hard or swim too hard,
just swim to the side.
It’s the dream where you wake up while you’re falling
or your heart is a cloud, the kind that looks like cotton pulled apart. 


I say your name, Alisa,
for the hell of it
the way we say
the names of the dead
or I tell the same silly stories—
our matching daisy tattoos,
the back of the cop car
busted for drinking underage
somehow the bar owner
believed you were twenty-three
probably because you didn’t
kiss like an eighteen year old,
or when Jamie Jordan,
the big eighth grader
punched me in the nose
and you bolted after her,
chased her for blocks—
and sometimes I tell
the stories that aren’t so silly—
your mother dying in my mother’s arms
my hand on your back,
as though my touch
could do something. 
All the times you ran away,
the time I drove two hours to take you
home with me, after your boyfriend
beat you blue and burned your mother’s obituary.
We thought there was a reason for us,
destined to do something great together
because our moms were best friends
before we were born without fathers.
We even looked alike—
pale skin, platinum hair, honey freckles.
Sometimes I take out pictures
and try to find something
I haven’t noticed before—
the fuzzy peach slippers on your feet
as our four year old bodies curl
up in a laundry basket,
wide smiles reveal tiny
white teeth like moonstones.
Or the picture of us on a seesaw—
the newly picked scab on your arm
as you look like a tiny porcelain bride
in your first communion dress,  
our eyes squinting in the sun.

BIO:  Chrys Tobey holds her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University. Presently she dwells among the planted palm trees in Santa Monica, California with her two trusty cats. She has had work published in numerous literary journals and has work forthcoming in Salt Hill, Driftwood, Mochilla Review, & Pinyon. She teaches a Bachelors Creative Writing course at Antioch University & tutors inner city children through the No Child Left Behind Act.

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